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What do you remember?

I came home three days ago rejuvenated, sun kissed, and salt water cleansed from this very rough past academic year.

Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge on the island of Kauai

Vacations are amazing which give us pause to reflect, reevaluate, change, or rekindle what you have forgotten that you love.

I am not sure if I forgot what I love, but I do know that I continue to enjoy simplicity wherever we go.

As a group of 11, we didn’t do very many planned excursions. We just wanted to enjoy the scenery and be together. I have outgrown the tourist traps and the need to see everything when I travel. Maybe this is an age thing, or it is a mindset thing, but I find more than ever I just want time to enjoy my surroundings and observe the place I am visiting.

The last time I visited Kauai, I was 19 years old, my dad was still alive, I was in my second year of college, I had not met Scott, I hadn’t even figured out what my profession was going to be.

Returning to Kauai definitely brought me close to my dad. My mom kept asking “Do you remember going to the lighthouse, to this little town, to the certain beach when we came last time?”

I was feeling frustrated because I couldn’t remember the specifics of that trip to Hawaii. I remember it was beautiful, we left right after Christmas, and we went on an amazing excursion to the Na Pali coastline.

Why couldn’t I remember all of these special memories that my brother could recall and my mom?

Then, it dawned on me, I was in a state of mind that was much different. I was unsettled, grappling with my youth, trying to figure out the world as a young woman. I am the baby in my family, 7 years younger than my brother. Growing up, I always wanted to be older, I wanted to do the things that my brother could do, accomplish the same things he did, have the same opportunities that he had. . . however, the only variable was the age factor.

Scott and Erin. . .observing many sunsets together

No matter how I looked at it, I was always going to be 7 years younger than him. So, I found growing up, that oftentimes, I would try to fast forward my life to see what it would be like 7 years from the present time, to enjoy the same things. I would even tell myself how happy I would be once I got to that next 7 years in my life.

Well, as you know, happiness cannot be measured by age or time limits. A lot can happen or not happen in 7 years. If I would have known 7 years from that first Hawaii trip that my dad would be very sick, I might have relished that trip a bit more and not have been so consumed with figuring out my life and planning all of my milestones of accomplishment. At the time, I thought I would have traveled many more times with my dad.

This is not meant to be a post about regrets and second thoughts. It is more of a chance to think. . Am I living in the moment? Am I really present?

23 years later, I try my hardest to live in the moment. Scott jokingly says that I am aging like a fine wine. I love that saying. Wine tastes better after years of settling. I know that I am more secure and settled than I was in my early 20s. Also with age comes knowledge.

My girls like to call me an owl. I welcome that saying as well. I am perfectly fine being called an owl. They are known for their wisdom. My skin might not be as perky, I have some battle wounds from being a mom, and I have some minor aches and pains, but my heart is happy. I will take that any day over the wrinkle free smile of youth.

As I observed my daughters on my second trip to Hawaii, I could see their wheels turning. My little girls are growing up, they are thinking about what the world has to offer, what they want to pursue in life, the growing pains between a girl and a young woman.

Will they remember the trip? They might remember sprinkles of sea turtles, lookout points with waterfalls, shaved ice with yummy macadamia nut ice cream, and hopefully that feeling of contentment.

Pure beauty- a hibiscus smiles at the morning sunlight

As for me, I took mental snapshots of my family laughing, chasing schools of fish, daring each other to swim into the grotto, and tripping with their fins on. I wasn’t wondering where I would be 7 years from now, or what life had to offer when I returned to California. I just wanted to be present.

And you know what, as I looked at the waves breaking at the reef, felt the trade winds every afternoon, and watched the moonlight dance on the waves, I knew my dad was with me.
Take time to just be, it will be worth every second of it.

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I love this!

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